The International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) is a global religious community also known as the Hare Krishna Movement. ISKCON belongs to the Gaudiya-Vaishnava sampradaya, a monotheistic tradition within the broader Vedic, or Hindu, family of faith and cultural traditions.
ISKCON's system of belief and practice is based on the Bhagavad-gita, "The Song of God," which, according to tradition, is 5,000 years old. The speaker of this sacred text is Lord Krishna, who is revered as the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The text explains what is the soul, God, the systems of yoga, karma, and reincarnation. It proclaims that the ultimate goal of life is to develop love of God, which is most easily realized in this age through the practice of bhakti-yoga, the science of devotional service.
In the 16th century, a Bengali saint and avatar, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu revitalized the bhakti-yoga tradition across India. Central to this renaissance was Chaitanya’s emphasis on the chanting of Krishna’s name. Underlying this simple practice was a profound, intellectually comprehensive theology.
In 1965, His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada left India, and at the age of 70 travelled to America under the order of his teacher, to propagate Krishna consciousness in the western world. He opened his first temple in New York City in 1966, and from a humble storefront presence, ISKCON has grown to be a vibrant global community of temples, rural projects, educational institutes, congregations, and vegetarian restaurants.